Tulsi Gabbard is a four-term congresswoman, a soldier who served in Iraq, a former U.S. Senate aide and native Pacific Islander. Her resume is a stack of firsts: She is the youngest person ever elected to Hawaii’s state legislature and the first Hindu in Congress, as well as one of its first two first female combat veterans. Gabbard is American-Samoan, an ardent surfer (who got engaged while surfing) and has stretched across the political spectrum — nominating Bernie Sanders for president in 2016, and later that year meeting with then President-elect Donald Trump.
If elected president in 2020, she would take office before turning 40 and become the youngest person ever in the job. Here is what Tulsi Gabbard believes on some key issues in the 2020 race.
Climate change: Mandate an end to the use of fossil fuels for electricity by 2050. Ban fracking.
One of the most aggressive pieces of climate change legislation in Congress, Gabbard’s “OFF Fuels for a Better Future Act” would mandate a dramatic move away from fossil fuels. The plan would require electric utilities to use 80 percent renewable resources by 2027 and 100 percent by 2035. In addition, it would set similar goals for car emissions, mandating zero emissions by 2050. Finally, it would end all subsidies and tax breaks for fossil fuels and it would ban fracking.
Education: Tuition-free community college for all and tuition-free public university for most families.
Gabbard backs Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ proposal to cut or eliminate higher education tuition for most Americans. She would make community college tuition-free for all Americans, and four-year public colleges tuition-free for students whose families make $125,000 or less per year. The plan would pay for that tuition by imposing a new tax on stock and bond trades.
Guns: Ban assault weapons and require universal background checks.
In Congress, Gabbard has co-sponsored bills that would ban assault weapons and require background checks for all gun purchases, including closing what is known as the “gun-show loophole.”
Health care: Create “Medicare for All,” a universal, government-sponsored health care system.
Gabbard co-sponsored a bill to create a government-run system to provide health care for all residents of the United States. That bill, “The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act,” would pay for health care by increasing taxes on the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans, create a progressive excise tax on payroll and self-employment, tax unearned income, and also tax stock and bond transactions (not just the gains from those transactions).
Social Issues: Protect abortion rights. Ban discrimination based on sexual preference, identity.
Gabbard believes that abortion should remain legal and accessible. She voted against a proposed ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. She supports the legal status of same-sex marriage, opposes attempts to bar transgender Americans from the military and supports laws to ban discrimination based on sexual preference.
In both of these areas, Gabbard has changed her position since she entered politics at age 21. She was initially anti-abortion, or opposed to increased abortion access. In 2004, she opposed a bill allowing civil unions for same-sex couples in Hawaii. Hawaii’s LGBT caucus withheld their endorsement from her in 2016. She has said that her time in Iraq sparked soul-searching and led to changes in her beliefs.
Military intervention: Withdraw from Afghanistan and Syria.
In general, Gabbard believes the U.S. should be less involved in foreign conflicts and have a smaller troop presence in many places around the world. She has specifically called on the U.S. military to pull out of Afghanistan, arguing that American troops completed their mission there andallow the country to chart its own course.
Gabbard also opposes U.S. military presence and action in Syria. In 2017, she sparked controversy after announcing that she had met with Syrian leader Bashar -al-Assad at his invitation. A few months later, she sharply questioned U.S. conclusions that a chemical attack in 2017 was directed by Assad’s regime. And recently she has criticized those who say U.S. troops should stay in the country. Gabbard believes the U.S. is in Syria primarily to force a regime change, something she argues is a mistake and being pushed by leaders who are “attached to war.”
The congresswoman believes U.S. action around the world often benefits extremists. She also has argued that Democrats and others should not back away from the term “Islamic extremists.”
Saudi Arabia: End U.S. support for Saudi-led conflict in Yemen.
Gabbard has said the U.S. is complicit in a humanitarian disaster by giving support to the Saudis, because they have cut off aid to large parts of the Yememi population while battling rebels there. She also sent a controversial tweet that was highly critical of Trump following news that the U.S. was standing by Saudi leadership despite intelligence implicating the kingdom’s crown prince in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Gabbard believes Saudi Arabia is a hub of anti-Western extremism.
Note: This story includes an update on Gabbard’s positions on climate change.